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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 3:46 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - Blues-Blackhawks series blog

Blues get some injured players back at practice

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues ended the regular season missing eight regulars from their lineup. When they open the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks, veteran forward Brenden Morrow, one of those injured, declared, "The cavalry's coming."

Morrow (foot), along with forwards David Backes (foot), T.J. Oshie (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body) and Patrik Berglund (upper body), and defensemen Barret Jackman (undisclosed) and Alex Pietrangelo (undisclosed) missed the season finale against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Some have missed multiple games.

The Blues finished the regular season losing six straight, and scored two goals or fewer in nine straight and 10 of 12.

All the injured players returned to the ice except Backes, Berglund and Sobotka for an optional skate Tuesday in preparation for Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, CSN-CH, FS-MW). Morrow may have been the biggest surprise.

Posted On Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 12:35 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues, Red Wings sit key names in season finale

ST. LOUIS -- When the St. Louis Blues host the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday [12:30 p.m. ET, NBC], each team will be without key regular players.

The Red Wings (38-28-15), who will face the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, are playing without forwards Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson, and defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall. Goalie Jimmy Howard, who was expected to start, will give way for Petr Mrazek. All are being given the day off.

The wounded Blues (52-22-7), who can still clinch the Central Division title, are without forwards David Backes (foot), Brenden Morrow (foot), T.J. Oshie (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body), Patrik Berglund (upper body) and Vladimir Tarasenko (thumb), and defensemen Alex Pietrangelo (undisclosed) and Barret Jackman (undisclosed).

Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 3:12 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Steen returns to lineup vs. Capitals

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will have forward Alexander Steen back in the lineup Tuesday against the Washington Capitals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Steen had missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. He leads the Blues with 33 goals and is tied with T.J. Oshie for the scoring lead with 60 points.

"He'll play," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Steen. "He's good to go. … If he's not healthy, he's not playing. He wasn't healthy the last few games, so he wasn't ready to go.

"This was the player's call and the trainer's call. When they leaned over the boards and said, 'I'm good to go,' I think it's my obligation considering he's had an unbelievable year and he's been our best player most nights. I'd be smart to put him in, so I'm pretty smart and putting him in."

Posted On Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 3:45 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Steen, Jackman out; McCabe debuts for Sabres

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres will each be dealing with new lineups Thursday when they face each other at Scottrade Center.

The Blues, already without forward Vladimir Tarasenko (thumb), will be missing forward Alexander Steen and defenseman Barret Jackman. Each has been ruled out for the game and are listed as day-to-day, according to coach Ken Hitchcock.

"Steen is upper-body, Jackman's lower-body," Hitchcock said. "We'll see whether they're going to play on the weekend or not right now."

Posted On Tuesday, 04.01.2014 / 2:14 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flyers defenseman Gustafsson eager to rejoin lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Erik Gustafsson had to dust the cobwebs off his equipment Tuesday morning. The Philadelphia Flyers defenseman hasn't been in the lineup for more than a month.

Because of an upper-body injury to defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who took a puck off the face and will miss the game Tuesday against the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues (50-17-7), Gustafsson will be inserted into the Flyers' lineup (39-27-8) for the first time since Feb. 27.

Gustafsson, who has two goals and 10 points in 27 games, is anxious to play rather than feeling bad about not being part of the mix in recent weeks.

Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 1:44 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues forward Roy back in lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Forward Derek Roy will be back in the lineup for the St. Louis Blues when they play the Minnesota Wild at Scottrade Center on Thursday.

Roy, who missed the previous two games with a lower-body injury, will center a line with Brenden Morrow on the left and Steve Ott on the right.

The Blues (49-16-7) enter play Thursday one point ahead of the Boston Bruins in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

"The line that we're playing together [Thursday] with Roy on it has played three times together before [Thursday], and all three games they've played really well together," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's three veteran guys that know how to read off each other. Obviously Ott takes a lot of the faceoffs and ends up down low in our zone.

"I want to see [the line] play consistently well before we evaluate whether we're going to stay with it or not. I'm not 100-percent sure yet. They've shown flashes where they play really well together and then for whatever reason, mostly through injuries or whatever, it's mostly gotten broken up or we've needed help somewhere else."

Posted On Monday, 03.17.2014 / 2:34 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues press on without injured Tarasenko

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues' mantra has been when one player steps out, another steps in and fills the void.

That's the present situation facing the team after learning Sunday that forward Vladimir Tarasenko will miss six weeks after injuring his right hand Saturday against the Nashville Predators.

Tarasenko will have surgery Wednesday; he'll miss the rest of the regular season and a portion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We've got good depth. That's one thing that's going to help us, but it [stinks] losing a guy like him," Blues forward Jaden Schwartz said of Tarasenko. "He's been playing real well this year. He's always an offensive threat. We've done it before. Guys are going to have to step up and play more minutes. We haven't had a problem yet and we know we've got the guys who can do it.

"I was surprised. I knew he was hurting after the game but you don't know how serious it is until you hear the news. ...We'll miss him for sure."

Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 2:10 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues welcome Sobotka back into lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues certainly were busy at the NHL Trade Deadline with the additions of goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres. But it's also not often a team can add a versatile player like forward Vladimir Sobotka to their lineup.

Sobotka, who missed 12 games dating back to Jan. 31 with a fractured left kneecap, will return to the lineup when the Blues (44-14-7) host the Edmonton Oilers (23-35-8) Thursday night.

"I've been cleared by doctors on Monday and I tried to push more every practice," said Sobotka, who has seven goals and 25 points in 46 games. "I feel good so I'm going to be playing tonight.

"It's been a long break for me. It's been probably six weeks right now, and it's been a tough injury for me. I'm excited to be back."

Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 3:21 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Players have Peverley on minds as Stars visit Blues

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues understand it will be business as usual when they face the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. But there was obvious concern for Dallas forward Rich Peverley, who has a history of heart issues and collapsed on the bench Monday during the Stars' game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. As the teams prepared for an important Central Division game, it was clear that Peverley remained in everyone's thoughts.

"Our thoughts and prayers are for sure with Rich Peverley and his family," Blues captain David Backes said. "This is a game and it kind of puts things in perspective that there's life after this game. There's things that are bigger and more important. Hopefully he's recovering well and stable and can figure out whatever's going on so that maybe he can make it back. His health is the No. 1 concern.

"I'm sure those guys [the Stars] will have heavy hearts and thoughts. He's on our mind too. It's going to be a game when the puck drops and you try to compartmentalize that and go at it. ... It's on your minds and on your thoughts."

Posted On Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 2:02 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Filppula plans to return for Lightning; Stamkos close

ST. LOUIS -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are on the verge of getting a pair key pieces back into their lineup.

Steven Stamkos, who's missed 44 games since a horrific injury against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11 that saw him break his right tibia, continues to progress and skated again with the Lightning on Tuesday morning ahead of Tampa Bay's matchup with the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2).

Stamkos will not play Tuesday but hasn't ruled out a home game Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. First, the team will look at another X-ray in order to determine just how good the bone is.

"I feel great. I feel the last two weeks, I've felt ready to play," Stamkos said. "We'll see what happens [Wednesday].

"It feels way better than it did a month ago. It's only going to continue to get better. We've been skating, we've been pushing it off the ice, we've been doing a lot of single-leg testing. It feels as good as it's going to get for the rest of this year. It feels pretty much the same as my other leg. It's kind of not based on how I feel, it's how the X-ray looks. I'm hoping third time's a charm. Hopefully that holds true [Wednesday]."

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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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